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Handbag from hell
By Tammy May

Budget-busting handbagWhen it comes to personal finance, I thought I’d seen everything then came this… The  iBag is a handbag designed to control spending. According to its makers, it:

  • Warns you with a flashing light when you approach a high-risk shopping area (in case you don't recognize the Westfield logo)
  • Sends an SMS to your significant other every time you use your purse (great for trust building)
  • Automatically locks during high-risk times and when you use your purse too often (so, my purse has a curfew?)

I’ll admit that the underlying idea has some merit. Overspending is often linked to a lack of impulse control, and the iBag discourages spending by making the consequences nearly immediate: “Touch your purse and I’ll tell your husband!” But if anything it heightens the desire to spend. It disempowers the handbag holder and turns shopping into a weird, deviant behavior. (By the way, where is the iManBag? Overspending affects both genders.)

Locking your bag is just a short-term fix—the real solution is to unlock and replace the beliefs that underpin overspending behaviours. Take MyBudget client Nicole for example. She admits that she was addicted to fashion shopping. Her wardrobe was the envy of all her friends, but it came at the cost of a huge credit card bill and terrible financial stress. She refinanced her home twice to pay off credit card debt, and each time ended up with more debt than before because nothing in her beliefs changed. Only when Nicole changed her attitude about money was she able to replace the instant rush she got from shopping with the long-term excitement of saving for a home.

So, forget about the iBag. Change your mind about money, not your handbag.

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